About 15-20% of the general population will develop tinnitus at some point in their life. The incidence is age related, with older people suffering more often with tinnitus. At the same time, the percentage in younger people is growing all the time due to the hectic lifestyle, malnutrition and stress. The severity of the symptoms varies amongst individuals; if the symptoms are soft and not persistent they can be tolerated by some.
However, if tinnitus starts to affect everyday life (interfering with sleep, lack of concentration etc.) they could turn into a real problem, creating a vicious cycle with mental health. The symptoms are also subjective and therefore the patient has difficulty in explaining to others what he or she is going through. Identifying the cause of the disease might also be another issue, adding to the patient’s stress. The most common causes include hearing loss, patients exposed to occupational noise, middle or inner ear disease (otosclerosis, Meniere’s disease, otitis media, wax etc.), vascular disease, tumors, temporomandibular joint issues, drugs or idiopathic.
Treatment may differ as clinical history and examination play an important part. At first, a CNS pathology has to be outruled before seeking any peripheral cause. Changes in diet and certain medication could be helpful to some, whereas advances in technology have provided us with tools such as tinnitus retraining therapy which could be more efficient to others.